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Our latest (and greatest) firing

So two weeks ago, I was home for my reading week, which was the perfect way to get back into some potting. With the busy Christmas and Holiday season fast approaching, and guild sales, open houses and everything else mixed in, it was important we got another wood firing in. 

Focusing just on glazing, I wanted to try a lot of new designs and colours this time around, to try and break up the style of work I had been doing. Here are some pictures of the glazing process, including a before and after view of the spray booth that desperately needed to be cleaned.

The firing itself was a little long, around 15 or 16 hours, but it was definitely one of our best. We loaded the kiln a little looser this time to encourage more air flow and heat distribution. I was worried since all my pieces had copper red on them, one of the hardest glazes to do consistently in a wood kiln. The fluxes and changes within the kiln can wreak havoc with the finished piece, especially as you're trying to keep a constant state of reduction over many many hours.

We didn't finish until sunrise, but it was definitely worth the long wait. A few days later and the results were wonderful. This was one of our best firings to date for colour and consistency. Here is the opened kiln, as well as some photo's of how my new pieces turned out.

Some much needed updates~

Sorry for the long hiatus, living in another country makes it hard to keep in touch and update things. Now that I'm back, briefly albeit, here are some quick updates and a gentle reminder that we are still here, hard at work :)

Work straight out of the latest wood firing

My fathers casserole, done in his classic brushwork style.

Getting back on the wheel after 9 months off, little rusty!

Two of Ayano's sculptures

Perhaps most importantly, is that we will be proudly participating in the 2015 Norfolk Studio Tour. My father will have his work on display, and we invite everyone to come out for the weekend, see what's new in our studio, and also discover some of the other amazing, talented artists in the Norfolk area. You can find all the information on the website, http://www.norfolkstudiotour.com/pages/home

Hope to see you soon, and I promise to update this more frequently now that I'm back in Canada :)

~Peter

 

Norfolk Potter's Guild Wood Firing :)

Some of the wonderful members of the Norfolk Potter's Guild, where my father and I are both proud members, came by and participated in one of our wood firings :) You can see some of the lovely work they produced on the very front table in the following photo. I hope everyone had a wonderful time and wasn't too tired after such a grueling (yet rewarding) process! :)

You can learn more about the Norfolk Potter's Guild on their website: http://www.norfolkpottersguild.com/

 

~Peter

The  last firing of the year, always the toughest. Without my son Peter to help with loading the kiln with his work, I had to make enough work to fill the kiln. It took two weeks longer than I had hopped.

I managed to finish last minute orders, and work for galleries just in time for Christmas. My daughter April was able to help me fire the kiln till 4:30 am in the morning, another marathon when firing with wood. In the photos you can see the back two rows before and after the firing, it feels like old black and white photos and then full colour. The whole process is still very magical, not knowing exactly what you're going to get. Sometimes the results are a gift from the kiln, and other times, even with all your best efforts, nothing turns out right. But like everything in pottery, you keep trying your best and become the eternal optimist. Yes, my next firing will be even better, right!


A sincere THANK-YOU to everyone for your generous support and encouragement throughout the year. A heartfelt Merry Crristmass to everyone.


Joseph and Peter

Diane Nasr-O'Young's Work

So it's been 2 weeks since I've been gone, and I recently just received my laptop, which means I'll be able to do blogposts and updates again :)

One of the things I was really looking forward to was seeing our dear friend Diane Nasr-O'Young's work on display at the Pearson International Airport. When I picked up Ayano this summer, I saw her work being advertised, but the display was in the International Departures Terminal and you had to be flying out to see it. Well, as fate would conspire, I was lucky to book my flight while the exhibition was still under way, and it was wonderful seeing Diane's work right before take off :)


I could try to describe her pieces, but they really speak for themselves. It's very rare to see someone who boldly displays their creativity in such a delicate, highly skilled way. One of the most powerful things about Diane's work is that they are always refreshing, dynamic and completely her own. There's never any compromise, what she creates is always a child of her own vision and artistic brilliance and carries its own whimsy and unique place in the world. Okay, so I am describing them quite a bit and starting to ramble. You can probably tell how much I love Diane and her work :)

And so, please enjoy the photo's, they're taken through the glass cases and not in the best lighting, but they give a decent idea of the wonderful work she creates. Diane and Kayo have always been two of my biggest inspirations,

~Peter

Recycling

One of the most important parts about doing pottery full time and running a studio is being able to recycle your clay. There is A TON of clay leftover after trimming, and it can all be reused if processed properly. We are fortunate to have a pug mill, which means we don't have to wedge the clay by hand, but here are some pictures of the process for recycling clay :)

Usually we try and take all the shavings after trimming and put them back into open boxes, allowing them to dry out. This means when we re-add water, they will absorb and breakdown much quicker and more thoroughly. So once all the excess clay is put into empty buckets, we add water and some kind of bacterial accelerator, in this case, cider vinegar. Some potters use old wine, anything works really. Bacterial build up helps further breakdown the clay, and causes it to 'age' beautifully. It makes a BIG difference in the quality of the clay afterwards.

Once the clay is broken down, we will use a large drill to mix it all, the more evenly distributed the clay is, the better. And finally, we put the clay into old bisqued pots, or sometimes into boxes lined with cloth, so that it can dry out slowly and reach a consistency where it can finally be put through the pug mill.

It's a lot of work, but we're able to save a lot of money by recycling, and to be honest, I don't even know how we would get rid of the clay otherwise :)

~Peter

A big thank you for another wonderful studio tour

My father and I would like to thank everyone who came and spent some time with us this weekend and made the studio tour such a joy. There are definitely moments when you are burdened and worn down by work, tired and exhausted, wondering, 'Why torture yourself every year?' These usually come when you've a mountain of cleaning, waxing, decorating and glazing to do, or at 3 am, covered in soot, sleep deprived and firing the kiln. We definitely had several of those moments these past few weeks, but now that the dust has settled, and the weekend has passed, we're so happy and glad we did it. It's not the work, good or bad, that makes it all worthwhile, but the people you meet, sharing your passions, and showing the love you have for working with your hands with others. We met a lot of incredible people over the weekend and we hope that visiting our studio gave you all a small glimpse into what drives and motivates us. For all of our long time customers who have popped into our studio over the years, we hope you're still finding something new and exciting to keep things interesting and fresh :) 

I think for my father the highlights were definitely sharing his now semi-famous (I still don't like it, but everyone else seemed to love it) fruit punch, his grapes from our backyard, and talking about his fig tree's. For me, I really appreciated it when someone found just the right cup or mug for wine, or whisky or even sake. I love the feeling when I find the perfect cup, that sits just right in your hand, and you can't wait to sit back and really enjoy something in it. To see that look of excitement when someone picks up one of our pieces is a true joy.

Unfortunately I barely took any photo's, but here are a couple of some of my new pieces that came out of the kiln and two pictures of the work in the studio.

My father's work

Elephant relationship bowl (strangers, meeting, and together)

Two of my new larger black mugs :)

My work on display


Once again a big thank you for everyone who visited and we hope to see you again and talk about pottery, or figs, or gardening, or anything else :)


Peter


Studio Tour this weekend!

In the past week my father and I have crammed in more work than we can ever remember! Two wood firings, back to back, over just 6 days, and we hope we're ready for this weekends Norfolk Studio Tour! We'll be open all weekend and welcome everyone to come see the fruits of our labor, enjoy some snacks and also visit the many other wonderful artists in the Norfolk area :) We have a lot of new work and we will be opening the second firing on Saturday :) You can find all the information for the studio tour here, as well as see the other artists participating: http://www.norfolkstudiotour.com/

Click on the map for a larger image, we're number 4 :)

To show just how much we've done, here are some pictures of our pieces as we prepared for the firings :) Hope to see some of you this Saturday and Sunday!

Fresh out of the electric kiln and ready to be glazed

My father's bowls glazed with oxides and copper red

All the work drying in the sun

Getting all the work ready to be loaded into the kiln

My father applying some cobalt oxide

These are the pots we put into the bottom front row every firing

and finally, the kiln all loaded and ready to go! We'll be able to open this one up on Saturday!



Just a few pictures

A wonderful, long time customer of my father's dropped in on her vacation all the way from Vancouver, and even brought some of my old pieces she bought throughout the years. The first bowl is one of my father's I decorated, probably around when I was 5 or 6 I think. There's also a picture of Ayano's flowers and kitty waiting to be bisqued, me throwing some vases, and my father and I cleaning our work and getting ready to glaze. I start the firing in an hour or so, so this is my last break before another marathon 16 hours :s

~Peter

Well, we are still alive :)

It's been quite a while since I've updated anything, or to be honest, done anything at all. With Ayano visiting from Japan, my mind has been blissfully far far away from pottery and work for quite some time. With some wonderful trips to Niagara Falls, Montreal and even a glorious week of camping at Grundy Lake, we finally felt ready to return to the grindstone and get back to work. And just in time as well, as my father will be doing the Cabbagetown Art Show next weekend, and after that in September, we have the Norfolk County Studio Tour, probably our biggest event of the year!!

 

As I write this, we are getting ready for a firing tomorrow, and we've just gone through a marathon few days of glazing and preparing. A few things stand out, such as little surprises left in old glaze buckets left unattended, like poor mice who have fallen in and unfortunately can't get out. Not the freshest smell, and it required a lot of sifting to get some of the 'residue' out, but my father assures me the glaze will be fine, if not even better! So there's one secret from the world of potters you probably didn't expect (or more likely, didn't want to know).

May MIckey rest in peace.

On a happier note, we've got some glaze tests and new ideas ready for this firing, as well as some pieces Ayano made on my small bowls, which if they turn out well, will look amazing :) I can't say I'm thrilled that summer is almost over, but it has been nice getting back to work and producing again. More updates to follow soon!

Ayano's flowers :) Only her second attempt at making them!


We've survived!! Two days at least . . .

And so, after the weeks of working, trimming, bisquing, waxing, glazing, firing, cleaning, pricing, packing, driving and setting up, we've survived 2 days of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, and are in the home stretch. We've had a wonderful time meeting new customers and seeing some familiar faces, some customers who have been buying my fathers work since he first did the show, back in the 80's!!! Knowing that there are people who still cherish and love my fathers work really makes him proud and this whole ordeal worthwhile.

Here are some pictures of my work being set up and displayed, you'll notice the scapes, berries and strawberries from the garden in case I get hungry :)

 

If you have time, come on by tomorrow on our final day, we're at booths H13 and H15. A lot of our prized work has sold, my fathers large teapots are almost gone, and I even found a wonderful home for my beach elephant bowl (the one with the blue water), but we do have a lot of other work we are proud of, and would just love to catch up :) The end is in sight, I can't wait to sleep in and catch up on all the rest I've been missing :) Hoping everyone who saw the show had a wonderful time, thank you

 

~Peter

Two summer shows down, one big one to go!

In the past few weeks we've done both the Guelph Potter's Market and the Windsor Art in the Park shows, and loved both. Now it's really crunch time as we prepare for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, July 4th, 5th and 6th downtown at Nathan Phillip's Square! Here are a few pictures from the last shows and what we've been up to. We will be having 2 wood firings this month, so I will post new work as soon as they come out of the kiln :) Hope everyone is enjoying the amazing summer weather!  ~Peter

My work on display at the Guelph Potter's Market :)

These are my newest pieces, I'm mostly using the local black farm glaze and a natural wood ash glaze, they give the pieces a light, crisp feeling and I'm enjoying the results :)

Bella was an absolutely gorgeous little doggie that stole my heart at the Guelph show, and I think she liked me too!! She always got excited around my booth! (well, my grilled salmon lunch might have had something to do with that :p )

A little update

The studio looking clean as always

So it's been a while since I've posted anything. After finishing 3 spring pottery guild sales, Hamilton, Brantford and Simcoe, we've been a little exhausted. But now that the weather has finally turned, the flowers are out, and we have more shows coming soon, we're back in the studio trying to catch up :)

 

 

 

This month we will both be at the Guelph Potter's Market, May 24th and 25th, at the Goldie Mill in Guelph. http://www.thepottersmarket.ca/ 

Then on June 7th and 8th, my father will be doing the Art in the Park festival in Windsor, http://www.artintheparkwindsor.com/

And then finally in July, we will both be showing our work at the Toronto City Hall at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, July 4th, 5th and 6th. This will be our biggest show of the season and we're frantically getting our work done :) It's a lot to be excited about, and also a lot of stress, but the sun and the wonderful spring weather helps. Here are some photo's the mess we've been making.

Some new designs I've been thinking about

Trying to make some of those ideas a reality (not my best effort lol)

My dad's favourite spring time hobby, picking wild asparagus

The tulips are out in all their glory :)

The Guelph Potter's Market, May 24th and 25th

My father and I will both be participating in our favourite show once again, the Guelph Potter's Market, on May 24th and 25th, 2014 at the Goldie Mill, 75 Cardigan Street, 10 am to 5 pm. This is a wonderful show that features exclusively pottery in a beautiful setting, an old gorgeous stone mill. I hope you'll come and see some of talented potters there :)

~Peter

Having some fun

So, with the addition of a new(ish) shimpo whisper wheel, and a little bit of free time, I sat down and decided to make some forms that were less practical, and more fun for me. I used recycled clay, which lacks a lot of the plasticity and strength of a new bag of clay, which means there are a lot of imperfections and even ripping in the pieces. But I wanted to make thinner, lighter and more appealing shapes, something to make me happy and enjoy a bit of throwing, not worrying about how practical or dependable they are. Here are some of the cups, ~Peter

Two of my submissions to the Hamilton Potter's Guild Biennial Gallery Show

I've submitted 3 pieces, all featuring elephants on my bowls, and here are two of them, just fresh out of the kiln and already on the way to be juried. Hopefully some of them get selected :) Here is the website for the biennial information, http://www.hamiltonpotters.ca/hamilton/events/biennial/  it's held at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas from April 4th to 27th, 2014. There will be a lot of amazing work from potters in the Hamilton region :)

(oh, and I've added a 'pinit' button for all those people on pinterest, if you're into that kind of thing)

"A day at the beach" with some water colour paint put into the water :)

"Not another dinosaur! Where are all the pots?" Looking for some ancient pots in all the  wrong places.

working on some elephant pieces

I made some more unique bowl shapes recently (huuuge rims) because I wanted to put on some elephants and make a kind of tableau. Nothing crazy, just whatever I'm in the mood for or what strikes me. Here is a group of elephants relaxing at the beach. I also don't want to over crowd the piece or make it too busy, so I'll probably leave it like this. The second photo shows the shape of the bowl a little better.